El Centrocampista

Manchester City and the Barça wonderkid – Who is Sergi Samper?

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Manchester City are eying a move for Barcelona’s midfield starlet Sergi Samper according to reports from TalkSPORT.

It is claimed Roberto Mancini’s City are lining up a move to bring the 17-year-old to the Etihad Stadium, despite suggestions Samper has already turned down a move to England 18 months ago.

City won their first league title in 44 years last month as Mancini’s side pipped rivals United on the final day of the season, and the club have already been linked with a number of high profile players as they look to strengthen their squad ahead of the new season, however it is also understood that the club owned Abu Dhabi billionaire Sheikh Mansour want to strengthen the youth academy by bringing some of Europe’s top young talent to Manchester.

Sergi Samper certainly fits bill as the Barcelona-born player is regarded as one of the hottest prospects in Spanish football and many see him as a future star for both Spain and the Catalan giants.

Samper is, predictably, a product of La Masia. He is currently turning heads with assertive performances from the centre of midfield, his natural ability allowing him to dominate games for the club’s Juvenil A side last season. Often the man to receive the ball from the defence, Samper’s vision to start attacks is way beyond his years.

The temperament and tactical intelligence defies logic for a player of such a young age. Not just a play-maker, the Spaniard – although he has a skinny frame – is compact and not one to shirk a tackle. As well as his astounding ability, his leadership qualities have seen him become captain of the side. With all this, it is of little surprise that he has been compared to Xavi.

Everything from his movement, to his use of the ball and even right down to the half-roulette turn as he receives the ball – the youngster even wears the number 6 shirt.

The midfielder apparently attracted interest from Arsenal last year, much to the disgust of Barcelona fans who are desperate for Sergi Samper to become a success for their club. Unfortunately, with this increased awareness of his ability, some are beginning to question where he will fit into the Barcelona system and the news of Manchester City’s interest is sure to further the doubts over the player’s future.

Samper sat in front of the back four last term, but a promotion to Barcelona B this season may see that change – if he remains at the club of course. Further questions would arise if Samper were to make the breakthrough into Tito Vilanova’s senior side. Although Xavi is approaching the twilight of his career, there are still players such as Andres Iniesta, Sergi Busquets and Thiago Alcantara to  contend with. It is an almost identical situation to the questions that were being asked last summer when it was clear Thiago himself was to be much more involved in the first team, with the added problem of also signing Cesc Fabregas.

Much of the discussion was about where he would fit in. It is worth remembering that Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas have all started as ‘defensive midfielders’ in the Barcelona ranks. It seems that it is a staple of La Masia’s system; it is where they learn to be much more complete footballers.

Essentially, though, it does not matter. As said before, no two players are the same. Each Barcelona midfielder offers something that the others do not. That is why teams have squads – all different players that can change a game in their own way. The coaches at Barcelona will have plans for Sergi Samper.

With the memory of Cesc Fabregas and Gerard Pique still fresh in the memory however, the first objective will be to persuade Sergi Samper to stay should a lucrative offer come in from Manchester City and the Abu Dhabi millions.




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